Theres a new word in rugby league: Pangaid. I dont know where it came from but its the term you use when youve been tackled by Broncos powerhouse Tevita Pangai Junior. Youve just been Pangaid. I like it.
HUNT TO BECOME THE HUNTED
The Cowboys Jason Taumalolo got Pangaid last Friday night at Suncorp Stadium. I havent seen anyone come close to buckling the Tongan international like Pangai did. Taumalolo has rarely been pushed back, rarely been kept quiet. Many have tried. Ive heard of players in team meetings say theyre going to take him on but nobody has, from memory, succeeded. Pangai did it twice in a matter of minutes — and then stood over him. He took it upon himself to tear him apart. And he did. Taumalolo will miss the next six to 10 weeks with a knee injury.
Thats what happens when Pangai hasnt got the ball. Hes just as devastating when he does, with his explosiveness, footwork and skill. Hes almost impossible to stop when hes running wider, like he did against the Cowboys. The Broncos have a play where they use little block plays to Pangai one-on-one with the halfback. Its frightening. This week, its Ben Hunts turn to get Pangaid.
The Dragons need to limit where Pangai gets the ball. They have to make sure they're coming off the defensive line all the time. They need to kick early and play down in the Broncos area. Just keep turning them around all night. If you are playing kick-reception footy, Pangai (and other Broncos forwards) wont get back onside until play three, as we saw against the Storm.
Thats how you nullify him — but you cant stop him. Weve been peppering NSW coach Brad Fittler with questions on the sideline for Nine about whether certain players are in the frame for the Blues. It would drive anyone else mad but Freddy knows its part of promoting the game. Freddy had Pangai in camp last year and Ive go no doubt hes ready for Origin.
I know its only early days but the Broncos are still my tip to win the comp. If anyone beats the Broncos later this year they will win it. I think the top four is already starting to show itself: Broncos, Storm, Roosters, Souths.
Im sure Dragons coach Paul McGregor is sick to death of talking about whats happening with his teams spine but, after two losses to start the season, its clear that moving Gareth Widdop to fullback to accommodate the signing of Corey Norman is just not working. He needs to make the brave call and change now.
Id be going back to what worked so well for them last season: Matt Dufty at fullback, Widdop at six, Hunt at seven, Norman off the bench. When Dufty came on late in the second half at fullback, the Dragons looked like a different team because of his obvious speed and he knows the position. But its too much of a change for all involved in the middle of a game. Different combinations, different voices.
Widdop has to be the five-eighth. As I said in this column last week, hes a world-class six — not a world-class one. For starters, a totally different fitness base is required because the fullback does so much running. But Ill defer to the judgement of one of the greatest in the position when it comes to why Widdop isn't working where he is. Billy Slater talked about Widdop defending on his left-hand side of the field up against Souths halfback Adam Reynolds. Thats why their five-eighth, Cody Walker, kept skinning the Dragons on the other side of the field.
If the Dragons are to win, they need Tariq Sims to play the game of his life — just like he did against the Broncos at the same venue in the first week of the finals last year when he scored three tries. If he does that, the Dragons have a chance. Sims has had less impact this year because hes on the back foot and not getting the ball as much. He plays on the left with Norman. Put Widdop there instead.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Corey Oates will get two or three tries tonight. Against Souths, the Dragons Euan Aitken and Mikaele Ravalawa leaked a loRead More – Source